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Recommended reading: Modernism, empathy and history for the summer

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Reading recommendations from workers at Bookmarks the socialist bookshop
Issue 2259

Zeitoun – Dave Eggers

This is an account of Abdulrahman Zeitoun who stayed behind when hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans. He travelled about in his canoe to rescue neighbours and see the drowned city.

Dave Eggers put it together after extensive interviews with Zeitoun himself.

Once again he stuns the reader with his compelling narrative style, applying great empathy and detachment to tell the shocking and occasionally horrific story.

Penguin, £8.99

Rape: From 1860 to the present – Joanna Bourke

A really difficult subject is treated with respect and intellectual rigour.

Joanna Bourke’s sense of outrage runs through the book. But she places rape in a historical context, always willing to look at how its nature changes along with society.

Despite the topic, she manages to remain optimistic about human nature throughout the book.

Little Brown, £12.99

Life and Fate – Vasily Grossman

This is an epic account of the battle of Stalingrad and more generally of life under Stalin. Grossman was a reporter in the city during the battle.

His novel employs a huge array of characters from all walks of life, and gives a riveting depiction of the moral choices people made under terrifying pressures.

Vintage, £9.99

The Theory of Revolution in the Young Marx – Michael Löwy

This classic work takes Karl Marx’s historical materialist approach and applies it to Marx himself. It asks how his ideas were shaped by the time and place he found himself in.

It shows him embroiled in the nascent workers’ struggles of the 1840s and meeting Frederick Engels in Paris. Illuminating!

Haymarket, £10.99

Militant Modernism – Owen Hatherley

What’s not to love about a book dedicated to the Southampton City Council architects’ department?

Owen Hatherley calls for a return to the best of the modernist movement. If you nurture a secret hankering for brutalist concrete, then you’ll enjoy this.

He details a radical modernism for the 21st century, rescued from the designer penthouses and given back to those for whom it was intended.

O Books, £9.99

All available from Bookmarks, phone 020 7637 1848 or go to

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